Feel Flows – The Sunflower and Surf’s Up Sessions 1969-1971 is a five-CD treasure trove of Beach Boys music containing 135 tracks, 108 of them previously unheard, including a cappella renditions from the days recording at their studio located in Brian Wilson’s home on Bellagio Road.
The set comes with a 48-page book featuring rare photos, recording artifacts, lyric sheets, an essay by Howie Edelson, tape box images, and a set of new and archival interviews. In addition to the box set, there will be a four-LP vinyl set in black as well as limited editions in translucent blue and gold colors.
Known for their classic mellow harmonies (thanks in large part to the group’s principal songwriter Brian Wilson), the set is more than a collection of infectious melodies. It’s a memory board of sorts, paying homage to an era of 60’s sand, sun, and surf from a California band who had as many hard times as they did good ones. The Beach Boys placed their musical stamp on American culture. Some surprising gems from Feel Flows include:
Mike Love’s folksy ode to the West Coast countryside has never been heard in its original form. Love wrote the song while retreating to California’s rugged canyons during a divorce.
“Awake” and “Won’t You Tell Me”
Both songs are solo piano demos of Brian Wilson’s. In “Won’t You Tell Me,” Murry Wilson, the brothers’ dad, can be heard saying, “Best song you guys have sung for five years!”
“Behold the Night”
Resident party animal Dennis Wilson wrote this wrenching harpsichord ballad during a time when (according to him) he was clean and healthy.
“Medley: All of My Love/Ecology”
Dennis Wilson, who had collaborated with Daryl Dragon of Captain and Tennille fame, stuns again in this 1971 chorale. Sadly, Dennis died tragically before realizing his dream of a solo career.
“Long Promised Road” (Live, 1972)
This live version is a tribute to Carl Wilson. As brother Brian said, “His spirit was probably the spirit of the Beach Boys. His voice healed me when I was going through a lot of bad things, his voice helped me out a lot.”
“Til I Die”
“Til I Die” is Brian’s elegy for his lost youth and appears on Feel Flows as a long version, instrumental piano demo with a stretched-out two-minute vibraphone intro and alternate lyrics.
A sweet lyrical fantasy about escaping to the farm for the summer with a stripped-down version of Alan Jardine and Brian Wilson’s raw vocals.
“Surf’s Up” (Live, 1973)
During a live performance, Mike Love tells the crowd that renowned music composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein said this was one of the best songs ever to come out of rock music. Moments later, Carl steps forward to sing and proves Bernstein right.
“Add Some Music to Your Day”
The song is a prime example of the team spirit forged during the 1969-1971 Bellagio Road-era as The Beach Boys regained their creative footing in a world that was culturally changing.
Image: “Feel Flows” set cover
Actually Dennis did release a magnificent solo album: “Pacific Ocean Blue” in 1977 before his death in 1983.
The 1969 Beach Boys hit “Do It Again” (off their LP “20/20” marked the end of The Beach Boys’ golden era. The group lost direction and floundered after that, moving into the ’70s and releasing poorly conceived LPs like “Sunflower,” “Surf’s Up” and “Holland,” all of which sold poorly — especially compared to their run of nearly a dozen Top 10 hit albums in a row during the ’60s. Singles pulled from their ’70s albums also tanked, except for their 1976 remake of Chuck Berry’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll Music.” In fact, the only Beach Boys LPs to sell well in the ’70s were all repackages of their ’60s material (“Endless Summer,” “Spirit of America,” etc.) It took nearly two decades after “Do It Again” for The Beach Boys’ to regain their footing (albeit briefly) with their excellent “Kokomo,” the group’s first #1 hit in 22 years. Except for their “Rock ‘n’ Roll Music”single, you can pretty much edit the 18 years between 1970 and 1987 out of The Beach Boys story. It’s telling that this new Beach Boys box set focused on the early ’70s needs the title of their 1966 million-seller (“Good Vibrations”) in order to catch people’s attention.
Actually, Surf’s Up, for me, is right up there with Pet Sounds.
Disney Girls 1957, has some of their greatest harmonies ever recorded.
I bought the vinyl and still play it!
Overall though, I agree, The Beach Boys floundered after 1971.
Carl Wilson’s voice was angelic in God Only Knows.
Erase 1970 to 87?…no way! the early 70’s was the Band’s most creative period and as a live act, one of the best ever. There’s a lot more to the Beach Boys than surf and summer, dig deeper, it’s a great story!
Wow. Sorry, but the artistry of post-60s Beach Boys is hardly defined (or diminished) by lack of chart action. And Kokomo was more ’embarrassing’ than ‘excellent’, and pales in comparison to scores of non-charting BB songs.
Sunflower was one of the greatest lps The Beach Boys have ever recorded.
And the song “Feel Flows” ifeom the Surfs Up lp is certainly one of the greatest songs they’ve ever made.
Have a nice day.
Holland poorly conceived?. . That’s a joke right?
Wave that magic criticism wand and pretend to be human. Still has no real relationship with music. “Holland ” is a hall of Picassos.
The Beach Boys were great all the way from their beginnings up through ‘The Beach Boys Love You’ album in 1977, after which they became a nostalgia act. Some of their best work occurred in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s when they were functioning democratically as a band, with songwriting contributions from each member. The ‘Feel Flows’ box set documents that period in a fascinating, first-rate way.
Huge sales figures do not equal greatness.Just look at some of the music in the years 1990-2021.It wasn’t for lack of artistic excellence that some of these LPs did not sell well.Some people just wouldnt progress like they did with the Beatles.
Total crap and an embarrassment. “A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A TREE” says it best!
The saddest revelation (for those who care) is not so much in discerning the ‘quality’ of the material that the. group offered, but the overall struggle for ‘control’ of the group itself. As a songwriter for the Beach Boys, going all the way back to 1966, I can’t tell you how often Brian was faced with opposition from within the organization…
Just about every major successful music group can attribute their success to one or two more talented members who are often given ALL of the credit for that success.
To THAT extent, Brian was torn between leadership and creativity… Murry wrestled for the leadership and did his best to play down Brian’s inate talent…
One can see this in recordings of Murry dressing down Brian with statements like “I’M A GENIUS TOO”.
Dennis and I accompanied Murry to lunch and I tried to point out these destructive attacks on an individual who was reaching out for new heights in a world of complications, not the least which was earned income and recognition… Dennis always felt that Brian WAS The Beach Boys and “we are his messengers”.
At one point, I said, “To tell you the truth, Murry… if you don’t offer moral support to Brian you may very well be responsible for the demise of the entire organization.
If THAT happens, tell me how you benefit in any way, shape or form”? He couldn’t and had to concede that his greatest mistake was in making all of the members
equal partners. He thought HE should have control of the Beach Boys, period…
From my point of view, I felt he should have recognized the condition of the group and encouraged Brian to go his own way… even if it meant the group’s demise.
Quite honestly, in the end it turned out that way anyway.
In summation, Brian was so talented he could have turned anyone’s words into great songs but, speaking as a lyricist, I’m not so sure the others could have provided the music to the words they penned.
I’m still hopeful someone will produce a documentary illustrating the human frailties of the entire organization without focusing on one single member’s shortcomings or frustrations.
It serves no purpose to beat up on the survivors…
they are all immensely wealthy and should all be credited with a life well lived.
We, the audience, should be eternally grateful for the fabulous journey the Beach Boys took us on.
God bless this talented group… they’ll continue to ‘GET AROUND’ long after we’re gone.
Stanley Shapiro (WOULDN’T IT BE NICE TO LIVE AGAIN).